Hockey: England forced to abandon Pakistan trip

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THE ENGLISH game suffered huge disappointment yesterday with the withdrawal of the national team from the Champions Trophy to be held in Lahore, Pakistan from 31 October to 8 November.

Having clawed their way back into the elite top six nations event, England have now been advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to pull out. Their advice deters "non-essential visits" to the region and suggests any visitors "adopt a low profile". The Champions Trophy normally attracts huge crowds, filling the 70,000 stadium.

Performance director Chris Spice said: "The position we have found ourselves in is extremely frustrating but no matter how small the risk, we have to put our players and supporters first. In that respect, this decision has been simple."

Barry Dancer, England's coach, has however announced an 18-strong `Lions' squad to face the USA in two training matches at Lilleshall National Sports Centre on 14 and 15 October. This squad does not include players from the Commonwealth Games team.

Dancer explained yesterday: "This training camp provides an ideal opportunity to develop a group of players who at present, and in the near future, challenge for a place in the national team. It is important that we provide this type of opportunity to the next group of players."

Seven of the Under-21 European Championship silver medal-winning side have been brought in: Nick Taylor, Tom Bertram, Scott Cordon, Manpreet Kochar, Andrew Todd, Danny Haydon and George Cover. Also included is specialist corner-taker Calum Giles, currently unable to find a place in the England squad.